USW, Mesabi Metallics Enter into a Neutrality Agreement

Renee Passal
Updated: January 26, 2018 10:16 PM

The United Steelworkers have entered into a neutrality agreement with Mesabi Metallics, for future work at the former Essar site. Local union leaders, elected officials, and folks endeavoring to open Mesabi Metallics stood shoulder to shoulder in Eveleth on Thursday.

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"With our history of supporting the mines and with good contracts, we see no reason why it can't be a steelworkers facility. But it's going to be up to the employees," John Rebrovich said. He's from USW District 11.

ERP Iron Ore, which includes efforts at Mesabi Metallics and Magnetation, sent representatives. Robb Bigelow added, "We know full well all the great things teh steelworkers have done up here. And Tom Clarke has a long history of supporting steelworkers and mineworkers at other facilities."

Tom Clarke said in a statement, "The Steelworkers have a long and deep history of performance on Minnesota's Iron Range, and we are excited about giving our employees the opportunity to join the USW. We are going to use much of our iron ore to bring back the domestic production of pig iron and, additionally, we will be moving high-quality pellets overseas."

The neutrality agreement will allow the USW to organize the Mesabi Metallics workers into the union without interference from the company. The USW will not approach people until they are hired at the facility. But they will have access to addresses.

Clarke, a businessman from the state of Virginia, is planning on finishing the mine at the former Essar site, and then producing pig iron at a plant on-site.

Itasca County Commissioners Ben DeNucci and Terry Snyder praised the neutrality agreement.

But one voice piped up, with concern. Frank Jenko, president of Local 2705 for Hibbing Taconite, said, "We have 750 people. We want to last another 30 years. The problem is we're running out of iron ore. While everybody trips over themselves to hand out state mineral leases to Essar, Mesabi  Metallics, or whoever, we are running out of ore in 7 years. We want it to be fair. No state money to the project, and no more extensions."

Rebrovich said that they too are concerned about the mine life at Hibbing. Rep. Jason Metsa added they want to be able to keep Hibbing going, as well as have success in Nashwauk.


Renee Passal

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